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Ask A Therapist: What Are Your Thoughts on Job Hopping?

Personal Growth, Career, Ask a Therapist
5 min read

Dear Therapist: I’ve changed jobs 3 times over the last 2 years. It really is pretty common here in LA in the startup world but I am aware of this feeling like I’m always looking for something else. “Obsession” feels like too strong of a word but there’s this motivating feeling that makes me just go-go-go. I really take pride in being good at my job, it brings me a lot of happiness, and each shift has landed me with a higher salary so it feels like the right move each time. My husband however suggested I slow down and talk to someone about this “need” for the next thing. I am finally listening and would like to hear if this sounds normal for someone in their mid 30s, and if I should really start to just…chill?

Frame Therapist Rebecca Newton weighs in...
Dear Always Looking, I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I have two different ways to look at this issue that may help YOU decide what this means for you. "Normal" looks different for everyone so you can explore how this shows up in your own life. 

First, let's look at the fact that this may be a normal, career climbing process. Maybe you’re just doing it in faster time because you have so many opportunities. If you feel like each time you make a move that you’re considering the options, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to make career moves that benefit you in the long run, then it sounds like it could be a great thing. People are no longer as devoted to companies long term, and companies aren’t as devoted to keeping employees as long-term as our parent’s generation. Many people do skip around for a while before landing a role that feels like the best fit. 

Second, let’s take a different approach. Do you feel this need for the next best thing in other areas of life, or just work? Constantly searching for the next best thing can leave you feeling disappointed, disconnected, and unhappy. Culturally in LA there is a lot of pressure to be outwardly successful. People gain a lot of their esteem from external factors (job, car, appearance) rather than from within (SELF-esteem). This can lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction once the newness of a job wears off and the imperfections start to show.

Also, humans don’t do well with too much choice. We like a little choice, but too much choice makes us feel like we are always missing out. Put these two factors together and you have a recipe for job-hopping and disappointment. Are you able to make decisions about other areas of your life and stick to them? You mentioned having a husband so I assume at some point you settled on a partner and committed despite having the ability to have picked other partners. 

If you do feel like you are job-hopping in order to fill a void, or to gain a greater sense of self esteem, then you may benefit from doing some work around that. The idea of slowing down, taking stock of what you have going for you at work, and spending time augmenting the things that aren’t working might be helpful. It can give you some great skills in navigating difficulties, and will naturally improve your true SELF-esteem. You can try learning to sit in the discomfort for a little while, practicing emotional regulation tools such as deep breathing, soothing self-talk, and acceptance. When you get the urge to make a change, you could try just simply noticing that urge and making a choice to not act on it. This is a form of emotional regulation which is beneficial for many areas of life.

I hope this helps you with your self reflection!

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About the Therapist: Rebecca Newton, LMFT is a therapist based in Redondo Beach, CA. She specializes in working with couples, relationship issues, and transition to parenthood. She believes that relationships are at the heart of everything, including our relationships with ourselves. 

Follow Rebecca @therapywithrebecca for more content. 


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